Thursday, July 22, 2010

N - MedChemComm launches

The UK Royal Society of Chemistry's (RSC) publishing division has launched a new, fully open-access journal. MedChemComm is a peer-reviewed journal for the rapid publication of medicinal chemistry research. Issue 1 includes two reviews and ten original articles, and can also be viewed on the beta version of RSC Publishing's new website.

B - Gender bias in medical publication

Heckenberg A, Druml C. Gender aspects in medical publication - the Wiener klinische Wochenschrift. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift 2010;122:141-145.

Worldwide, about 50% of students starting medical school are female but a much lower proportion reach leading positions. Looking at manuscripts submitted to the journal Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift from 2002 to 2007, the number of female authors increased to 30% by 2007 (up to 50% in some specialties). However, review papers or invited editorials are rarely authored by female researchers. Furthermore, a small percentage of peer reviewers are female although the quality of their reviews is generally better. Medical journals should play their part in eliminating these gender inequalities.

B - Public perception of clinical trials

Ohman EM, Roe MT, Armstrong PW, et al. Public sensationalism and clinical trials: how to address the challenges of science? American Journal of Medicine 2010;123:481-483.

Ensuring that clinical trials proceed rationally and without sensationalism will help to better determine the risk and benefits of the therapy under investigation. There needs to be trust and transparency between the scientific community and industry, and an effective data safety monitoring board to avoid bias and allow trials to reach their full potential.

B - Changing ethos of medical publications

Kojima T, Barron JP. Changes in the ethos of medical publications as reflected in progressive alterations in the uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals (1979-2008). Chest 2010;137:1479-1482. doi 10.1378/chest.09-3024

N - Steering a middle course

A new journal, Hypotheses in the Life Sciences, will publish papers that introduce new ideas in biology that "advance or challenge scientific thinking". The papers will be chosen primarily with the guidance of the editorial board, which includes the recently fired editor-in-chief of Elsevier journal Medical Hypotheses. The journal was set up after Elsevier decided to institute a more traditional peer review process at the once editorially reviewed journal. The founding editor of the new journal says: "What a journal of this sort can provide is a certain amount of scientific quality control, but without attempting to be definitely authoritative and without some of the restrictions that come from conventional peer review." (

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

B - Publication bias in stroke studies

Sena1 ES, van der Worp HB, Bath PM, et al. Publication bias in reports of animal stroke studies leads to major overstatement of efficacy. PLoS Biology 2010;8:e1000344.

The existence and impact of publication bias in laboratory sciences was explored using the CAMARADES (Collaborative Approach to Meta-analysis and Review of Animal Data in Experimental Studies) database to find systematic reviews of animal studies of acute ischaemic stroke. Only 10 of the 525 publications identified reported no significant effects on infarct volume, and only 6 did not report at least one significant finding. Statistical analysis suggested that publication bias might account for about one-third of the efficacy reported in systematic reviews. It is estimated that over 200 experiments have been conducted in this field but not reported.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

N - New group tackles European copyright

The European Network for Copyright in Support of Education and Science (ENCES) has been set up to lobby for changes in European copyright law in support of education and science. ENCES believes that despite the ever increasing availability and accessibility of information, "copyright regimes increasingly erect artificial borders that get in the way of scientific freedom and the pursuit of knowledge".

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

N - Scandinavian open access initiatives

Three Scandinavian institutions have recently proposed open access (OA) policies. Sweden's Royal Library (Kungliga biblioteket, KB) promises to provide immediate open access to digital versions of all material by KB employees published in magazines and journals. Another Swedish body, the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (Riksbank Tercentenary Foundation), now requires all grant-funded work to be open access, and will pay fees where necessary. Denmark's Open Access Committee recommends that all Danish universities adopt OA mandates and that Danish academic publishers actively consider OA.

N - PLoS ignores impact factors

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) has decided "to stop promoting journal impact factors on our sites altogether. It's time to move on, and focus efforts on more sophisticated, flexible and meaningful measures." The statement, published on the PLoS Blog, follows the release of the 2008 impact factor data, showing significant increases for all PLoS's journals. But PLoS believes that individual article metrics are a more useful measure of the impact of published science and better reflect the way scientists access published research.

B - Assessing sincerity of misconduct apologies

Souder L. A rhetorical analysis of apologies for scientific misconduct: do they really mean it? Science and Engineering Ethics 2010;16:175-184.

Published acknowledgements of scientific misconduct can be sincere or ritualistic. By comparing published retractions and letters of apology with the letters that charge misconduct, it's possible to assess whether the apology was sincere or ritualistic. Although most published acknowledgements of misconduct do use language strategically to minimise culpability, they often still satisfy to some degree the concerns raised.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

B - Do pressures to publish increase scientists' bias?

Fanelli D. Do pressures to publish increase scientists' bias? An empirical support from US states data. PLoS One 2010; 5(4): e10271
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010271)

The growing competition culture in academia might conflict with the objectivity and integrity of research, because it forces scientists to produce "publishable" results at all costs. Papers are less likely to be published and to be cited if they report "negative" results. Therefore, if publication pressures increase scientific bias, the frequency of "positive" results in the literature should be higher in the more competitive and "productive" academic environments. This study verified this hypothesis by measuring the frequency of positive results in a large random sample of papers in all disciplines with a corresponding author based in a US state. These conclusions could apply to all scientifically advanced countries.

B - Bridging the divide between science and journalism

Van Eperen L, Marincola FM, Strohm J. Bridging the divide between science and journalism. Journal of Translational Medicine 2010;8:25
(doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-8-25)

It is important for scientists and journalists to bridge the communication divide that exists between them. Scientists should know how to communicate their latest findings through the appropriate channels. Reducing years of research into a headline can be extremely difficult and certainly doesn't come naturally to every scientist. This article offers practical tips for any scientist looking to work with the media to communicate his findings. In doing so, scientists will not only be able to assist the public in making better informed decisions about their healthcare, but also personally benefit from increased funding, enhanced career opportunities and stimulate the "cross-fertilization" of their research and ideas across broad disciplines. A recent study showed that medical articles reported in The New England Journal of Medicine and then reported in The New York Times receive about 73 percent more citations than articles not reported in The New York Times.

B - Health research reporting guidelines

Moher D, Schulz KF, Simera I et al. Guidance for developers of health research reporting guidelines. PLos Med. 2010 February; 7(2):e1000217
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000217)

The authors of this article believe that nowadays the quality of reporting in most health care journals is inadequate. Many publications lack clarity, transparency, and completeness in how the authors actually carried out their research. Use of reporting guidelines is associated with improvements in the quality of reporting health research. In this paper guidance on how to develop reporting guidelines is presented. It includes 18-step checklist and could be of help to potential and practicing developers. While some of the items are optional, there is a core set of steps that are necessary to ensure adequate development of a reporting guideline. The checklist will be also available on the EQUATOR Network website. The guidance would help researchers improve their reports, and also be used by peer reviewers and editors to strenghten manuscript review.

B - Medical ghostwriting

Lacasse JR, Leo J. Ghostwriting at elite academic medical centers in the United States. PLoS Med. 2010 February;7(2): e1000230
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000230)

Medical ghostwriting, the practice of pharmaceutical companies secretly authoring journal articles published under the byline of academic researchers, is a threat to public health. In 2009 the Institute of Medicine recommended the US-based academic medical centers enact policies that prohibit ghostwriting by their faculties. Authors found that few medical centers have such public policies, and many of the existing policies are ambiguous or ill-defined. An unambiguous policy is then proposed, which defines participating in medical ghostwriting as academic misconduct akin to plagiarism or falsifying data.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

B - Business in medical writing: a monographic issue

Business. The Write Stuff. The Journal for European Medical Writers Association 2010; 19 (2): 78-163

A monographic issue of The Write Stuff (TWS), journal of the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) dedicated to the business theme in the field of medical writing, interesting for both editors and publishers. Two articles tackle an important question for the future of medical writing: whether medical writing activities add value that can be seen as a tangible investment, also in term of Return on Investment (ROI) (p. 96-100). The issue also contains a small collection of “acquiring-knowledge-to-help-you-in-business” articles: one of them overviews the broader and key aspects of publications management within organisations that produce a large number of publications, and compares two electronic tracking programmes for managing publications with a view to keep compliant with Good Publication Practice guidelines (GPP2) (p. 105-9). An article, the first of a new series, gives some guidance on word order in written English, of invaluable help to the non-native speakers of English; word order is rarely written about and is generally poorly understood, even by the natives (p. 124-7). An article reports a controversial case of plagiarism (p. 122-3) and another one reports discussion on copyright at EMWA ‘s 29th Conference (November 2009, Frankfurt) (p. 150-1). The theme of another interesting article is the topic based writing – a new approach of thinking, in which information is structured in a modular way instead of a linear way being each document broken down into small bits of information which are called topics (p. 152).
Electronic version available for EMWA members only.

N - DOIs in the popular press

The CrossRef newsletter reports on the appearance of DOIs (digital object indentifiers) in the mainstream media, giving readers a reliable way to access the original research. An example can be seen on the ScienceDaily website. Publishers can promote the use of DOIs by making sure they are included in citations used in public relations materials.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

B - Do reviews deserve their citations?

Wiley S. Down with reviews: review articles simply don’t deserve all the citations they receive. The Scientist 2010;24:31.

The number of review articles and review journals has grown over the last decade. While they are clearly useful for both scientists and publishers, the relatively high citations for some reviews indicates that they are increasingly being cited in place of primary sources, either because a review conveniently summarises multiple primary sources or because the primary source is overlooked.

N - Royal Society journals free for July

For the month of July, the Royal Society will make all of its journal content completely free to view. That's over 350 years of papers, letters, reviews, and opinions accessible on the Royal Society Publishing website. You can read everything from a 1671 letter from Isaac Newton that set out many of the fundamentals of optical science to the current issue of Interface, focusing on biomaterials.

Friday, July 02, 2010

N - EndNote gets an upgrade

Thomson Reuters has released a major new version of the popular bibliographic management software EndNote. The new version, codenamed X4, enables users to import PDFs and offers a neater 'Cite While You Write' facility that includes a boggling 4500 journal styles. EndNote X4 is for Windows users only and is fully compatibile with Microsoft Word 2010. A video showcasing the new features is on the EndNote website.

N - Springer Opening Up

Springer Science+Business Media, owner of BioMedCentral (BMC), is launching a series of new open access e-journals under the banner SpringerOpen ( Taking inspiration, expertise and technology from BMC, SpringerOpen will start publishing 12 titles in early 2011, and institutions signed up to BMC's membership team will also get access to the new SpringerOpen titles.

N - Peer review turned around

Elsevier is piloting a new approach to peer review: let the reviewers choose what they want to review. The new system, called PeerChoice, will be trialed for 3 months in the journal Chemical Physics Letters, and Elsevier hopes it will speed up peer review and avoid the problem of reviewers being asked to review articles outside their area of expertise.

B - Sources of dissemination bias

Bowden J, Jackson D, Thompson SG. Modelling multiple sources of dissemination bias in meta-analysis. Statistics in Medicine 2010;29:945-955. DOI: 10.1002/sim.3813

Asymmetry in the funnel plot for a meta-analysis suggests dissemination bias, perhaps caused by publication bias or selective reporting by authors. Studies with statistically significant results or larger effect sizes are more likely to be published, giving a biased picture of the evidence. Considering a realistic scenario in which multiple processes, involving both authors and journals, statistical methods can be used look for potential effects of multiple biases in meta-analysis.

B - Open access survey

Björk BC, Welling P, Laakso M, et al. Open access to the scientific journal literature: situation 2009. PLoS One 2010;5:e11273.

A survey published in PLoS ONE found that 1 in 5 research papers published in 2008 are currently available free online. Researchers at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland, checked the availability of 1837 randomly selected articles from the Scopus database ( They found that 8.5% were freely available on the publishers' websites, with a further 11.9 percent available on authors' websites or in repositories. Earth sciences had the highest proportion of open-access (OA) articles (33%), while chemistry had the lowest (13%). In life sciences, most OA articles were 'gold' (free at publishers' websites), while in other disciplines, most OA articles were green (only available on authors' websites or in repositories).